Leaders Library: 5 Mindsets to Design Your Life

I’m fresh off of vacation with the family and I feel great! Remember that book I talked about earlier in the year, Resonant Leadership? The authors stressed the importance of “renewal,” and they nailed it. I feel renewed, fresh, creative and positive.

This vacation was right up my ally; a small amount of site seeing and a lot of sitting on the beach, talking, reading, and playing with the kids in the ocean. That is not, however, my wife’s ideal vacation. She would rather be charting new land, exploring, site seeing, engaging in new cultures and learning about history. This time around she took one for the team and I owe her one!

So what did I learn from this experience?

  • My wife is still my boss and it works best when she is in charge.
  • Renewal is important — you need to take time for yourself.
  • The family is evolving. This may be my son’s last summer home, and I am not ready. It hurts, but don’t tell him; let him enjoy the independence.
  • I need to get in shape.
  • Life is a Design Problem.

All of those lessons are important, but it’s that last point that I want to emphasize.

During my time on the beach, I read a book, Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans. This great read begins with some fascinating statistics:

  • In the United States only 27% of college grads end up in a career related to their major
  • In the United States two thirds of workers are unhappy in their jobs and 15% hate them

For me, the first point is true. I was an accounting major as an undergraduate. I use the skills, but I am not an accountant.

The second point does not apply to me. I love my job and the team I work with on a day-to-day basis. I have the normal ups and downs, but I am lucky. Still, the point is that life is hard. It throws us a lot of curve balls. As a result, people are constantly searching for a joyful and prosperous life.

What is a Well Designed Life?

The authors say “a well-designed life is a life that is generative – it is constantly creative, productive, changing, evolving and there is always the possibility of surprise.” I tend to agree and approach my life with that philosophy. I am constantly reflecting and challenging myself to grow.

But I never thought about life as a “design problem.” That is a fresh and interesting perspective.

You Need These 5 Mindsets

The authors talk about 5 mindsets necessary to design the life you want (and they apply to both life and business):

  • Be curious – be reflective and ask questions.
  • Try stuff – have a bias toward action.
  • Reframe problems – focus on problem finding, not problem solving. Sometimes your “story” makes you stuck. To get unstuck, reframe your situation.
  • Know it is a process – sometimes things get messy as you explore, but more importantly, sometimes beauty emerges from the mess. Have patience with the process.
  • Ask for help – design is a collaborative process that brings others into your “life-design” process.

I loved so many things about the book, but a couple of points really hit home such as:

  • There are multiple versions of you – get comfortable with that and embrace it. There is no one “right” version of you.
  • Designers do not start with the problem, they start with the people. People, not products or services, define their point of view.

The book is part motivational book and part workbook. The authors explain their process and then provide you with activities to complete. By the time you are finished the book, you have charted a path of treating your life as a design problem. Give it a try and let me know what you learn in the process.

What you are reading this summer? Please share in the comments. I’m always on the hunt for more recommendations!